Teachers striking

LOCAL teachers and support staff are set to walk off the job tomorrow as the Australian Education Union continues to fight against the State Government’s proposed new enterprise bargaining agreement.

Rosedale Primary School, Sale College and Maffra Secondary College are among the local schools where staff will undertake stop work action.

At least 30 teachers from Maffra Secondary College are expected to participate in the stop work, with three classrooms at Rosedale Primary School to be affected.

The AEU branch council has endorsed an escalation of the dispute with the State Government over new agreements for teachers and principals and for education support staff, with up to 40,000 AEU members predicted to descend on Melbourne’s Rod Laver arena for a rally.

The stopwork will follow seven weeks of bans and limitations imposed by teachers and principals, including bans on responding to Education Department emails, participation in Education Department surveys, the use of the Ultranet and implementation of the national curriculum. These will remain in place for the duration of the dispute.

The Gippsland Times understands a visit by a local politician was cancelled recently because of a ban on Liberal and National MPs using schools for photo opportunities after being informed the visit could trigger a protest or walk-out.

A ban on teachers taking on extra classes and grade-splitting (for example two teachers sharing the teaching of three classes) began on Monday, August 13.

In a letter to the Gippsland Times, Maffra Secondary College AEU sub-branch member Jacinta Fleming said the decision to implement stop work had not been undertaken lightly.

“Teachers and ES (education support) staff have increasingly becoming disheartened and frustrated by refusal of the government to negotiate over many issues,” she said.

“We are concerned how this will impact our students in the future.

“Educating children is not a business, it is about providing the best educational opportunities for every child, in the best environment, by the best teachers.”

Ms Fleming said the government’s vision statement proposed that teachers should be paid more if they taught particular subjects, five per cent of teachers should be sacked, there should be professional development during term breaks and principals should be able to be appointed from outside the teaching profession.

“Teachers at Maffra Secondary College and all schools work long hours as it is, often starting the day very early and leaving school late; taking home correction, planning and reports” she said.

“Does the government take into account the school camps, excursions, lectures, musical presentations, breakfast clubs, information nights, professional development on weekends and nights that teachers attend?

“Teachers also have to attend staff, curriculum, PAC, domain, professional learning and teaching meetings, leaving little time for planning lessons after school, as well as keeping abreast of and implementing the latest technology.

“Teachers usually work through their lunches and recess, dealing with student management issues, planning lessons and supervising students.

“Our education staff also work tirelessly to support our school community; we want to see them valued and recognised for the outstanding work they do.”

Ms Fleming said the State Government also wanted education support staff to attend school during the holidays.

“This does not take into account their 24/7 aiding of students on camps and excursions and out of hours,” she said.

“They have been offered only a 2.5 per cent pay rise; many say they struggle to make ends meet on their low level of pay.

“Many have to continually reapply for positions year after year.”